Families needed to make more room at the dinner table this Thanksgiving season, especially as 2018 saw a record-high adoption year. Over the past year, adoptions from foster care have risen by 18 percent, with Louisiana boasting a record increase during the twelve months prior to October. For the third consecutive year, Louisiana has set adoption records for the most adoptions in one year.

This year, Louisiana saw 912 finalized adoptions of children from the foster care system into 631 families, a celebrated leap from the 771 adoptions into 548 families recorded in the previous twelvemonth period. In some families, more than one child was adopted. In addition to a record amount of foster children being adopted, 2,332 children left the state’s custody to return home or to a relative’s guardianship.

A welcomed increase in teenage adoptions was seen as well. While teenagers prove to be among the most challenging groups to place at permanent homes, compared to the year prior, the department witnessed a 30 percent increase in adoptions of children aged 13 to 17. Members of the department share that the number of families willing to open their homes to teenagers was truly touching.

This adoption record is attributed to the work of the state Department of Children and Family Services, which made adoption a true priority. With the assistance of support staff, more families were able to make the leap from fostering to adoption.

Recently, the department has garnered more resources to better help the children they receive. Many of the children come from broken homes complicated by abuse or tragedy and often require personalized commitment and attention. The governor and Legislator have since assisted in providing more funding to hire additional staff to assist with caring for the children.

Since the focus has shifted to reducing turnover in the welfare system, the department has witnessed an increase in adoptions, specifically an increase in the cases where families adopt more than one child. In fact, a third of families this year adopted more than one child. While keeping siblings together can be a difficult challenge, the department has celebrated seeing families adopt groups of siblings.

The success of the year was commemorated with an event in Baton Rouge in November. At the event, department members and new adoptive parents gathered to celebrate the record amount of adoptions.

Later this season, over nine-hundred children will gather around the table to share a Thanksgiving meal with their forever families.